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Volk newest judge on bench in Southern District

Judge Frank W. Volk doesn’t need a court stenographer’s transcript to help him recall his testimony.

He can tell you where he was and what he was doing when he figured out he wanted to go into law when he grew up.

He was a sixth-grader in his room, in his house in Westover.

Law sounded pretty good, the once-and-future U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of West Virginia thought.

Of course, he didn’t know how to go about any of it, being a kid and all.

So, he asked permission to approach the Bench of Mom and Dad (his parents, Jessie and Frank), who knew the case law on such things.

“Write a letter,” came the ruling.

“A letter?”

“Yep, a letter. To a lawyer.”

“I can do that?”

“Heck yeah, you can do that.”

So he did.

Off, a dispatch went to then Monongalia County Prosecutor Andy Fusco, who promptly responded.

The reply came with an invitation to the county court house on High Street.

“I never forgot that,” Volk said. “He was generous with his time, and he was a busy guy.”

Days in court

Volk, 54, is the newest judge on the bench in the Southern District. He was sworn in two weeks ago.

U.S. Sen. Shelley Capito, R-W.Va., championed Volk’s appointment and recommended him to President Donald Trump.

“Frank has the experience and temperament needed for his position,” she said.
“There’s no question in my mind that Frank will continue to serve West Virginia honorably.”

The bench is nothing new for Volk, who was most recently Chief Bankruptcy Judge for the Southern District.

He had also been a clerk for state Supreme Court Justice Margaret Workman, and began his career doing the same for U.S. circuit judges Blane Michael, Charles Haden and John Copenhaver.

Volk enrolled at WVU as a freshman and stayed to earn a degree at the College of Law.

As a law student, he attained the Order of the Coif, the college’s highest academic honor. He was also editor-in-chief of the law review.

He and wife, Angie, are the parents of two children, who also attend WVU.

His brother is also an attorney and his sister is a teacher.

His father, Frank Volk, is deceased, but his mother Jessie, who is now 94 and known as “the official foundation” of the family, attended his swearing-in ceremony.

“If we’re successful,” the judge said of himself and his siblings, “it’s because of our parents.”

Rulings of love and respect

The elder Volk flew 35 combat missions in World War II, manning the belly turret guns on a B-17 bomber.

“He’s an 18-year-old kid from Arthurdale and he’s in the middle of war,” said his son, the judge.

“He was the guy in the bubble, if you’ve seen pictures of the B-17. He was the most vulnerable crew member on the plane. We didn’t know any of this for a long time. He didn’t start talking about the war until he was in his 60s.”

Growing up, the future judge changed the oil in the trucks at the family beer distributorship. He cut meat in a grocery store and spun records at a radio station.

“If you wanted it,” he said, “you earned it.”

Volk and his siblings got life sentences from their parents, he said. The ruling came in stages.

Work hard, they said.

Treat everyone with respect, they said.

Show up on time (early, actually), they said — and then give good care to the task or circumstance, no matter how annoying.

The word, “honorable,” is in front of a judge’s name for a reason, he said.

“When you’re a judge and you sign an order, you’d better take that as seriously as anything you’ll ever do.”

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